A Vicar asked God if he could see heaven and hell before he went to whichever of the two was going to be his final destination. He was taken to hell first where he saw a group of people crying and screaming at each other as they sat around a table on which was centrally placed a large bowl of delicious food. All that the people could use to eat with were very long-handled spoons. Unfortunately, the spoon handles were too long to enable the people to bring the food to their mouths hence their cries of frustration and anger. The Vicar asked to be taken to heaven where he was surprised to see the same table with the same bowl of food and the same long handled spoons. This time however, the people around the table were laughing and celebrating their meal together. The only difference between heaven and hell was that in heaven the people used the long-handled spoons to feed each other with rather than themselves.
From the comments that I hear each year about Christmas it would seem that some of us are glad when it’s all over. Perhaps this is because many are using their ‘long-handled spoons’ (i.e. their wealth) to feed themselves rather than others. Such self-centredness will always leave us feeling unsatisfied and ungrateful – feelings which are positively encouraged in our consumer society so that we are tempted to consume more.
The first Christmas was so very different. It was centred around a God whose ‘spoon-handle’ was so long that it reached from heaven to earth in His desire to give his most precious possession (His one and only Son) as a free gift to those who lived in darkness. Those wonderful words from John’s gospel that we read at each Christmastide remind us just what a precious gift Jesus was – and still is, ‘The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world… To all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.’
If you are slightly dreading Christmas why not follow God’s example and give – use your ‘long-handled spoon’ to bring joy, hope and love to the lives of others and not just those who are closest to you – you may be surprised at the joy and light it will bring to your own life.
I wish you all the most happy and fulfilling of Christmas’s.
Yours in Christ,